Baby Not Sleeping Through the Night Yet?… You've Gotta Have a Schedule!

Baby Not Sleeping Through the Night Yet?.... It's all about a schedule! Let’s start with the basic feeding/nap schedule…

Yes… It’s all about a schedule.

Gosh there are so many things that change after having kids, way too many to even think about, but the main one on every one’s mind is S L E E P ! (Hint: if it’s not on your mind then you are probably so sleep deprived that you don’t even know how tired you really are!)

My kids have the best pediatrician. When my first daughter was born, he asked me a few simple questions.

1. Do you want to continue to have a good relationship with your spouse?
2. Is having a good night sleep important to you?

“Uhhh… yeah, of course” was my answer. He promptly handed me a piece of paper with a schedule to follow. He also reminded me that not only will I have time to get things done around the house, but that the baby will sleep through the night in about a month and a half. Seriously… a month and a half? Yes, Seriously!

Of course there are some BIG factors to consider for this to work.

1. Your baby needs to be healthy and at your doctor-approved weight to start a feeding and night time sleeping schedule. (For example, my first daughter was born at 7 lbs. 3oz and was sleeping through the night within a month and a half. The triplets were born premature, so I wasn’t able to try the schedule for a couple months, but all of them were sleeping through the night at three months.)

2. You need to be okay with letting your baby cry for 15-20 minutes. Which can be pure torture, but if you are the type of person that needs to pick your baby up every time you hear a peep, this will never work for you. If you are to the point that you are willing to try anything, trust me 15-20 minutes of crying isn’t that bad, and it only lasts for a week or two at the most.

So here it goes… and keep in mind that I’m only the messenger here, but feel free to curse my name in the middle of the night, because I know that I gave all kinds of nick-names to my pediatrician at first, but now I just think he’s amazing!

Let’s start with the basic feeding/nap schedule…

6:30 am feeding
nap after feeding (in bed)
10:00 am feeding
1:30 pm feeding
nap after feeding (in bed)
5:00 pm feeding
8:30 pm feeding

Straight from the hospital, your goal is to get the baby on this schedule, and of course you can shift it to fit your schedule, but you need to get them eating every 3 1/2 hours. And yes, I woke my babies up to feed them and this works for both breastfed and formula fed babies.

NOTE: If you are having a hard time getting them to the next feeding, make sure you are burping your baby during feedings. Sometimes they will have an air bubble and think they are full and stop eating, then you lay them down and an hour later that air bubble comes out.. 'burp'… and now they are not full anymore. I would have to burp my daughter so long that my arms would ache.

Once you are on that schedule, your baby will be waking up two to three times a night to eat, and soon thereafter only two times to eat. Usually somewhere around 12:30-1:30 and again 3:30-4:30, but what time they wake up in the middle of the night or even how often doesn’t really matter, it’s more of a way that I can explain the schedule, so if your baby is waking up at completely different times than I’ve listed, no worries, you can still follow the schedule.

OK, so now you’ve got the okay from the pediatrician and it’s time to get him/her/them to sleep through the night. Starting with the first time they wake up… let them cry for 15-20 minutes. Yes, the first few nights are pure torture, but you can do it. I would put a pillow over my head and stare at the clock counting down the minutes because it was so difficult. If they are still crying after 20 minutes, go into their room, only turn on the lights if you must, or in my case, I had my husband put a dimmer on the light switch, so I’d have the light as low as possible, do not talk to your baby, and do not make eye contact. No, you’re not being mean, your just letting them know that it’s bed time, not play time. Now offer them some distilled/nursery water for 5-10 minutes. My daughter never drank out of a bottle, so she outright refused the bottle and 2 out of 3 of the triplets drank the water, but either way, it just another way to stall their feeding time. So now you are approximately 30 minutes past the time that they woke up, and you can go ahead and feed/change them and put them back in bed.

Continue to do this for the first feeding and soon you will notice that they are making it to 2 a.m. or 3 a.m., and naturally the second feeding will push itself to later and later.

So how long will this take? Maybe one week, maybe two weeks, but in my case, my daughter took 5 days and the triplets took 1 1/2 weeks, and only because they all got ear infections in the middle of the process.

So now you may think that there is no way this can work, but it does. I have four children, and it worked for them, my sister-in-law has four children and it worked for all of them, and most recently I gave this schedule to another triplet mom, and when I saw her a few weeks later, she gave me the biggest hug, because it worked for her, too.

So as long as you can follow the schedule, deal with some crying for a few days, you can do it, too.

I know that everyone does things differently, so if you are trying the schedule and it’s just not working, or perhaps you encountering something I haven’t mentioned let me know, I may have had the same issue, but forgot to mention it.

Whew! That’s all for now – Happy Sleeping!

~Sue Buchelt

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

nascosi July 06, 2011 at 05:44 PM
You make no mention of the ages of your children when you put them on this schedule. If nothing else, please make a disclaimer that this should NOT be followed for newborns. This can be dangerous for babies that young. Going 3 1/2 hours without eating when you're a tiny baby with a tiny stomach is a sure fire way to create a Failure To Thrive situation. Also, forcing a newborn to cry alone for 15-20 minutes is just cruel.
Heather July 06, 2011 at 05:54 PM
She did this to her newborns. She mentions it in Step 1. Also, water should not be given to newborns as well. This post is just all sorts of terrible advice. Really, if your doctor suggested this to you, you need to find a new doctor. He put your newborns in possibly very bad situations. Sheesh, even Ferber isn't this cruel.
Karlie Baker (Editor) July 06, 2011 at 06:09 PM
To clarify, I don't think Sue meant to imply a specific age. The first step does mention requiring a certain standard of health, approved by a doctor. Obviously each child is different.
Shannon July 06, 2011 at 06:31 PM
This is horrible, dangerous advice that directly contradicts the AAP's position on newborn feeding and is a sure recipe for failure-to-thrive. If my pediatrician offered this advice I'd fire him and lodge a formal complaint. As per the AAP: (AAP Policy Statement, "Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk," Pediatrics, Dec. 1997): "Newborns should be nursed whenever they show signs of hunger, such as increased alertness or activity, mouthing, or rooting. Crying is a late indicator of hunger. Newborns should be nursed approximately eight to 12 times every 24 hours until satiety." Note the 8-12 times every 24 hours bit. This article suggests feeding a baby only 5 times in a 24 hour period.
nascosi July 06, 2011 at 06:39 PM
I understand that every child is different, but there are certain things that are just dangerous - particularly the advice about giving water to a baby. Water should never be given to a young baby as a replacement for breastmilk or formula. That is extremely dangerous and can lead to an electrolyte imbalance, which can result in a hospital stay for renal failure...or in the worst case, death.
Karlie Baker (Editor) July 06, 2011 at 08:33 PM
Hey everyone, while most of you are doing a good job of this, please be respectful of each other's opinions. You're certainly allowed to disagree there's but no place on this forum for name calling. Accounts that fail to adhere to our Terms of Use will be suspended.
Sheena July 06, 2011 at 09:03 PM
this is bad news bears tbh. this kind of advice is how you create failure to thrive.
Karen July 06, 2011 at 11:00 PM
Horrible advice and if your pediatrician is the one who suggested it you should run as far away as possible. I think the blogger should read this article - http://www.drmomma.org/2009/12/excessive-crying-harmful-to-babies.html
Cee July 07, 2011 at 11:53 AM
Awful advice. Please don't follow them, especially with newborns. It's dangerous - like, actually dangerous. It's not a matter of different opinions, it's a matter of actual, proven facts. New moms, please, do your researches. AAP is the best place to start.
Sue Buchelt July 07, 2011 at 09:19 PM
It is not 'dangerous' for a healthy, 1 month old baby to cry, and going 3 1/2 hours without eating is a VERY common schedule. When the triplets were released from the NICU at Good Samaritan hospital, they were all on 3 1/2 hour feeding schedule... Hmmmm..... You many not trust me, but a Level 3 hospital's award winning NICU has got to know something about babies!
Sue Buchelt July 07, 2011 at 09:29 PM
My instructions do state that you need to discuss this with your pediatrician before starting a schedule. I'm a mom of 4 children and their safety is the utmost importance. If I felt that they were in any danger, I would not follow the schedule, as I would suggest to you too. Yes, water can be dangerous if you give them too much, because they should be getting plenty from the breastmilk/formula. I was instructed by the pediatrician to offer a small amount, 2 oz or so, which I do not feel that in any way was a danger to my children. Offering water per the schedule only lasted 5 days, and there were no adverse side effects.
Sue Buchelt July 07, 2011 at 10:11 PM
Karen, Do you know anything about the research that was done to put together the article you've suggested I read? Some of it too is based on an opinion, not clear fact, while other parts of the research stated have nothing to do with sleep training and crying-it-out, more studies from abuse cases. It's funny how we tend to believe what feels right to us, but not necessarily what is actually fact. Perhaps you should read this article: http://www.babble.com/baby/health-and-safety/baby-sleep-training-does-cry-it-out-method-harm-kids/ Excerpts from the article... to save you time. "A Harvard study often surfaces in this debate to show that CIO is bad for baby. This is not actually an original research paper, but an opinion paper based mostly on anthropological studies of parenting practices. It describes how U.S. parents emphasize independence, while mommies from other cultures co-sleep and respond faster to their little ones. It does not have any data about sleep training. Letting a baby cry while she learns how to fall asleep is not for everyone. You may have a philosophical issue with it, you may think it's not the right fit for your child, or maybe it just plain feels wrong to you as a parent. If this is the case, follow your gut and find your own path to restful nights."
Sue Buchelt July 07, 2011 at 10:13 PM
Yes, I agree that when babies come home from the hospital they should be fed when they are hungry and this is what I did for a month and a 1/2, then my pediatrician assessed her/their health and weight, and suggested a feeding schedule to follow or a time frame to wait before starting a feeding schedule. Please focus on the part of my post that states you need to make sure to get your doctors approval...
Sue Buchelt July 07, 2011 at 10:16 PM
Of course there are some BIG factors to consider for this to work. 1. Your baby needs to be healthy and at your doctor-approved weight to start a feeding and night time sleeping schedule. I never stated that a brand new baby home from the hospital is ready for this schedule.
Shannon July 08, 2011 at 02:19 AM
A month-and-a-half baby is *still* a newborn. A month old is a very, very short time to be on this earth! Many month old children aren't even socially smiling yet. My personal opinions on sleep training and cry-it-out methods aside, this advice is outdated and in direct contradiction of the AAP's statements on feeding infants. Again, if my pediatrician offered this advice for my infant I would fire him and file a complaint with whatever governing/licensing agency he was ruled by. And frankly, if my pediatrician asked me if I wanted to keep my relationship with my spouse "good", I'd think he overstepped his professional boundaries. I don't go to my pediatrician for marriage counseling, I go to him for medical (read: not parenting) expertise.
Shannon July 08, 2011 at 02:45 AM
I'm beating a dead horse here but here are some more resources and fact sheets about infant feeding, including feeding premature and low-birth weight children: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/wichd/nut/pdf/fac7-s.pdf. Suggests that premature and low birth weight infants not be offered solid foods, juice or water until 6 months corrected age. Also states that breastfed premature/low birth weight infants be fed every 1-3 hours, and that formula fed infants be fed every 3 hours. http://spinprogram.ucsd.edu/Documents/LPIParentBookletShort.pdf which states, repeatedly, that late preterm infants be fed AT LEAST every three hours. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/healthy-baby/PR00057 states, "Don't give your newborn water, juice or other fluids. Introducing these liquids before your baby is age 6 months is unnecessary and can interfere with his or her desire for breast milk or formula, which may lead to malnourishment." and, "Within two to three months your baby may be satisfied with 6-8 feedings a day." The author of this article suggests 5 feedings/day. http://www.nal.usda.gov/wicworks/Sharing_Center/NJ/infant%20feeding%20guide.pdf Again, suggesting that babies younger than 6 months need more than 5 milk feeds/day. Please, do some research before following this type of feeding schedule for a very young infant.
Cee July 08, 2011 at 11:47 AM
<i>Straight from the hospital, your goal is to get the baby on this schedule, </i> You might want to change this statement then, because it sounds like you're contradicting yourself. And still, my objections stand. Even more so since not every doctor is up-to-date. My personal anecdata involves a pedi just like the one you described in your post. We ran away as fast as we can - a good thing, since I adore the AP one we're seeing now.
Sue Buchelt July 08, 2011 at 01:50 PM
**Once again, please understand that it is very important you talk with your pediatrician before starting any type of schedule... All of my children had several check-ups before starting the above schedule and the triplets schedule was delayed because of their prematurity/weight – every child is different. We all have strong opinions on this topic, and always have. There are a ton of documents out there stating opinion and research that doesn't apply to this specific schedule, and as a parent, you need to do what you feel comfortable with. In no way did I endanger my children, and contrary to your opinions, my advice is not 'horrible', 'dangerous', or 'bad news'. It's just different than yours, which I understand is sometimes hard for people to hear. However, I suggest that you start your own blog and write about your experience, opinions and favorite websites, and I will continue to do the same. As for the negative remarks about my pediatrician: He is a well known doctor, elected Fellow of the AAP, and has won numerous awards, written hundreds of papers, teaches at Loyola, chosen for Person of the Week by ABC, and understands that a good night sleep can help you be the best mom/dad that you can be. Best of Luck!
Sue Buchelt July 08, 2011 at 01:55 PM
Cee, yes, my pediatrician isn't for everyone, just as your pediatrician wouldn't be for me and my family. Best of luck to you.
Shannon July 08, 2011 at 03:02 PM
As an academic, I know better than to use opinion pieces when trying to prove a point. You'll note that all of these documents are scholarly and peer reviewed, and all of them directly address advice you are giving. Feeding a baby five times in a 24 hour period isn't enough for most young ( >6 months) infants and replacing milk feeds with water, no matter how small the amount, for a baby who is getting all their nutrition from formula or breast milk is actual, scientific, honest-to-goodness dangerous advice and your pediatrician was wrong in giving it to you for such young babies. What would you think if he had told, urged you even, that it was OK for you to leave your baby alone in a hot car for just a few minutes? You'd think he was insane, right? Giving water to a tiny baby is the same and urging other parents to do the same is willfully obtuse and irresponsible at best and deadly at worst. I am not suggesting you are a bad parent for following this type of schedule, and I am not suggesting that you were wrong for letting your children cry-it-out. IAM, however suggesting that you don't pass this advice on for babies younger than 6 months. And that you do some reading into infant growth, development and feeding.


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